Thursday, June 30, 2011

Museum Newsletter

If you are coming to Ottawa this summer, be sure to visit both the Museum of Civilization, and the Canadian Museum of War. And if Ottawa is not in your vacation plans, then you should subscribe to their newsletter.

This month, some of the topics covered are the Halifax Explosion, which occurred on December 6, 1917- in an article called “Fire and Water”.

The article says that there was “A fireball 1.6 km high. A tsunami and a blazing inferno. Sixteen hundred buildings destroyed and twelve thousand damaged. Shattered windows in a village situated a full 100 km from the explosion. Thousands of dead and wounded. Images of Japan or Indonesia come to mind...and yet, this drama unfolded right here at home. Revisit the tale of an unprecedented catastrophe and recall the courage of those who braved impossible odds to save the lives of others.”

One of the other articles called “Digging up the Past” goes back 11, 000 years in Southern Ontario to the Early Paleo-Indian period. The article says that "A few hundred people are scattered across Ontario in small communities of nomadic hunters. The glaciers around them have begun to melt, revealing numerous pockets of land and creating enormous lakes - including the vast Champlain Sea to the east".

If you want to receive the newsletter, go to and fill out the contact page.

The two museums are absolutely fabulous! You can get a real sense of the country as you go through the two museums, and they are close enough that you can walk between the two. One suggestion: Take the walkway in back of the Civilization Museum over to the Canadian Museum of War. Across the Ottawa River you will pass by the Parliament Buildings, and you will see the Supreme Court Building, and the Library and Archives Canada. There are plenty of plaques along the way which will explain everything, and the flower gardens are absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 is FREE for Royal Visit

From June 30th through to July 8th, 2011 when the Royal Couple are in Canada, will be offering free access.

To explore the free records and to sign up for a free 14 day trial, please visit

The Armenian Boys' Farm Home, Georgetown, Ontario

Today, the Ontario Heritage Trust and the Armenian Community Centre of Toronto has unveiled a provincial plaque to commemorate The Armenian Boys' Farm Home, Georgetown.

"The arrival of Armenian child refugees at Cedarvale Farm in Georgetown helped to lay the groundwork for this country's international humanitarian efforts throughout the 20th century," said Dr. Thomas H.B. Symons, Chairman of the Ontario Heritage Trust. "We are proud to honour this significant event in our history with this provincial plaque."

In part the plaque reads as follows:


On July 1, 1923, a group of 50 Armenian boys arrived at this farm site from an orphanage in Corfu, Greece. The 'Georgetown Boys,' as they came to be known, arrived in Canada between 1923 and 1927 - 109 boys in all. The orphans were survivors of the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923). Their plight touched the hearts of thousands of Canadians, who raised significant funds and lobbied the Canadian government to bring them here. Under the care and supervision of the Armenian Canadian Relief Fund's Farm and Home Committee, the children lived at Cedarvale Farm located on this property and were taught English and farming skills. By 1928, the orphans were placed with farm families in Southwestern Ontario. As adults, most of the Armenians became Canadian citizens and chose to remain in this country. By providing assistance to non-British Commonwealth refugees, the Armenian Boys' Farm Home was the first humanitarian effort of its kind in Canada.

The unveiling ceremony took place at the Armenian Youth Centre - Hamazkayin Theatre in Toronto. The plaque will be permanently installed at Cedarvale Park in Georgetown, the site of the Armenian Boys' Farm Home.

"Canada's humanitarian efforts in aiding the 109 orphaned Armenian children who survived the Armenian Genocide of 1915 must be remembered and commended," said Armenian Community Centre President Vatche Kelebozian. "This provincial plaque will immortalize the memory of the Georgetown Boys and act as a permanent reminder of Canada's proud humanitarian tradition and its unyielding commitment in aiding Armenians."

A book has been written on the Georgetown Boys by Jack Apramian, and is featured in a 1976 article in “The Georgetown Independent" on

Miramichi Irish Festival

The 28th annual Canada's Irish Festival will be held in Miramichi, New Brunswick from July 14th-17th, 2011

The Miramichi Branch of New Brunswick Genealogical Society will be there, as well the as Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

In the information package on the website, they say they will be “Focusing on Northumberland County, we will use the Census for the years 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901; there will be transcriptions of every cemetery in No. Co. (over 130), thousands of obituaries (16,000), vital stats from local newspapers, some church records, complete family histories and much, much more. We also have several of our publications available for sale. Be sure to visit us at while attending the festival”.

According to the Festival information, The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick will have a “special digital film archive will be launched as part of the Provincial Archives exhibit. The North West Digital Film Archive created by Derry City Council’s Heritage & Museum Service, the Donegal Regional Cultural Center, Donegal County Museum & Archives and the Nerve Center will be available”.

They will also have a collection of almost 100 hours of searchable material including the census records, land grants information, historical photos and other research documents.

Some of the other events that will take place will be the The Red Hair Contest and Running of the Green Race

For more information, please visit their website at

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Acadian Museum Recovers

I first made the acquaintance of Warren A. Perrin of Layfayette, Louisana in the aftermath of Hurricane Rita when the museum he runs called the Acadian Museum of Erath, Louisana was damaged – almost beyond repair. The genealogical material had to be reconstructed, and with the help of Stanley LeBlanc, most of the records have been repaired.

They were dark days for Warren, and the people who work at the Museum. But through hard work, and support from the Acadian descendants in Louisiana, and Acadian people who live in Canada, the Museum has come back to be better than it was before.

If you go to you will see three rooms dedicated to history and genealogy (the Erath Room, the Acadian Room, and the Prairie Bayou Cajun Room), The Photo Gallery, and a list of family names held at the museum.

Another way you can keep track of the museum is by subscribing (free) to his newsletter called La Parole which is sent out on a regular basis. There is lots to read, and keep up on in the newsletter.

His email is

Monday, June 27, 2011

Upper Canada Village is 50 Years Old

This past Saturday, the historic Upper Canada Village in Morrisburg, Ontario celebrated its 50th Birthday!

Opened in 1961, it consists of building rescued from the flooded land when the St. Lawrence Seaway was built in the late 1950s. It has seen over 12-million visitors since it opened.

The village contains a sawmill, gristmill, cheese factory, farm and agricultural shops, furnished homes, churches, a general store, tavern and other historic buildings depicting a typical 19th century village along the water.

I visited the Village a number of years ago, and found it to be so interesting. I especially remember seeing the woollen mill, the cheesemaking building, and the church. I can say from a personal point of view, if you wish to see what Ontario was like in the 19th Century, and the kind of life your ancestors lived, a trip to Upper Canada Village should be the one place to visit this summer.

The former visitor center (Crysler Hall) was opened Saturday as the new exhibit area, and a new visitor centre is being built, and expects to be open in July.

The website is

Newfoundland and Labrador Discovery Day

Discovery Day is a provincial holiday in Newfoundland and Labrador, celebrated on the Monday nearest June 24th - and this year, it's the 27th of June – today!

It is a commemoration of the discovery of the province in 1497 by John Cabot. Since 1997, it has also been known as Cabot 500 Day.

Cabot left Europe on May 20, 1497 with one ship, the Matthew. He landed on the American east coast on June 24, 1497. We do not know exactly where he landed (could have been Cape Breton, or Maine), but he went ashore, and took possession of the land. He left on or about July 20.

On his return to England, he was given a patent for a new voyage to North America the next year, and he left in 1498, this time with five ships. But he was never heard from again, and except for one of the ships, (which landed in an Irish port), the exploration was lost.

The Matthew legacy site today is tourist attraction in Bonavista, Newfoundland and Labrador. A replica was built in Bristol, UK, in 1996, and it made the journey to Bonavista in 1997.

The official website of Bonvista is, and the website which some of the history of John Cabot is written is

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ontario First Parliament Buildings and War of 1812 Centre

There has been a press release concerning a new interpretive centre commemorating the site of Ontario's first parliament buildings and the War of 1812.

"This commemorative centre will provide a unique opportunity for citizens and visitors to learn about and mark significant events from our collective past - a fitting and timely initiative as we prepare for next year's celebration of both the bicentennial of the War of 1812 and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, events that will highlight and reinforce the Crown's important role in our parliamentary democracy," said the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

The commemorative centre will open in February 2012 at 265 Front Street East in Toronto, on a property acquired by the province and transferred to the Ontario Heritage Trust in 2005. It and three adjoining properties comprise the site of Ontario's first purpose-built parliament buildings. Opened in 1797, the buildings were burned by invading American forces during the War of 1812. They were later rebuilt, but were destroyed by fire again in 1824.

"This new commemorative centre will not only shed light on the history of this site, it will also put that history in a provincial and national context," said the Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of Research and Innovation and MPP Toronto Centre.

"Next year's bicentennial is an ideal time to draw attention to the importance of Ontario's first parliament buildings, which were destroyed in battle during the War of 1812," said Dr. Symons. "We are delighted that the new commemorative centre will showcase this history, exploring the evolution of our democracy and the significance of the war, both of which have played major roles in shaping the province and the country we know today."

"Many citizens of Old Town Toronto and local organizations have been eager to see this site commemorated and interpreted, particularly as the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 approaches," said Rollo Myers, who has been actively involved for many years with the protection of the site of Ontario's first parliament buildings. "I'm delighted that the Trust's centre will celebrate the bicentennial and showcase the critical early years of Upper Canada, as many of Ontario's most important institutions - social, political and religious - trace their beginnings to this site."

LAC Marks the Opening of the New Nitrate Film Preservation Centre

Genealogists took note that on June 21st, the Library and Archives of Canada marked the official opening of the new Nitrate Film Preservation Centre in the west end of Ottawa.

In a press release it said that “A portion of Library and Archives Canada's film and photographic negative collection is nitrate-based, a medium that can catch fire under certain conditions. This collection captures some of Canada's most significant moments up until the 1950s when the medium became obsolete. The material was in danger because it was housed in facilities that did not provide the stable, cold and dry environment essential for preservation. Until recently, the collections were stored in an outdated facility, originally built in 1947 on the former Rockcliffe Air Base in Ottawa.

The Nitrate Film Preservation Centre is an eco-designed building with various sustainable features that include a "green" roof, well- insulated walls to reduce energy consumption, high-efficiency mechanical systems to reclaim energy, and technology to reduce water use.

The nitrate-based collection consists of 5,575 reels of film, dating from as early as 1912, and close to 600,000 photographic negatives. Among the materials preserved at the new facility is one of Canada's first feature films, Back to God's Country, along with works produced by the National Film Board and photographic negatives from the collections of Yousuf Karsh”.

New images on Flickr: Nitrate Film Preservation Centre

Thursday, June 23, 2011

BIFHSGO Conference 2011 Update

British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is one of the most successful genealogical societies in Canada. They have well over 500 members, and are leaders in the study of Anglo-Celtic roots in Canada.

This year from Sept. 16 to the 18th will see the 17th Annual Conference at the Library and Archives Canada on Wellington Street in Ottawa, and it will have as it's theme "England & Wales: London & the Home Countries".

On Friday, there will be the pre-conference Seminar which will feature "I can't find them anywhere!: Effective searching, sharing, and collaborating with Ancestry" with Leslie Anderson; "Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Artifacts: Arresting the deterioration of your family treasure" by Kyla Ubbink; and "Introduction to English and Welsh Family History Research: Using civil registration, census, parish register and probate records" by Linda Reid.

There are eight lectures to choose from on Saturday and Sunday, and they range from "Tracing Your English Ancestors in The National Archives", "The Fleet Registers: Clandestine Marriages in London 1667-1754", "The London Gazette: Not Just the Brave and the Bankrupt", and "Resting Peacefully in Essex - Where I Became a Better Genealogist".

Why don't you come, and join us for a really good weekend? You can find out information about your ancestor, and at $70.00 for the full conference (member's rate), or for $50.00 a day (member's rate), or at $20.00 for a single session, how could you go wrong? And don't forget, there is also a Marketplace on all three days.

This year they have a blog which they keep you up-to-date on the latest speakers, where to stay in Ottawa while at the conference, and the Marketplace is reporting a 15% jump in registration!

You can register before Aug 12th by going to the BIFHSGO website at

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Scottish Nick Names in Canada

There has been an interesting notice sent in by Dianne Bergstadt to Chris Paton on his blog, Scottish GENES about Scottish Nick Names that were used by people living in Glengarry County, Ontario.

As Chris points out on the blog, there are very few “Scottish” Nick Names in the list, but it is worth reading to see if your ancestor is included in the list.

Some samples of Nick Names are -

Donald MacDonald = Big Donald The Blacksmith

Sandy MacDonald = Sandy Schoolmaster

John McPhee = Old Man of Cold

John MacDonald = Johnny Alex the Cook

Alex McDonald = Alex the Grocer

The website which has the list is

Many thanks to Dianne for sending a notice of the list to Chris, and my thanks to Chris for putting it on his blog this afternoon.

Ottawa Genealogical Society Blog

The Ottawa Genealogy Society has a new blog at

Published since June 10th, I learned about it last evening while attending the AGM of Ottawa Genealogy Society at Library and Archives Canada.

I went to their site this morning, and found out that Mike More (the former chair of the Ottawa Genealogy Society, and the Region VIII Director), Edward Kipp (the editor of the Ottawa Genealogist, the Branch’s newsletter), Jim Stanzell (the Publications Officer), and Tom White (the Program Officer) all contribute to the blog on a regular basis.

For instant, while talking to Jim last night, I learned that he is putting on information on the War of 1812. Right now, he has the first of many postings on War of 1812, and this one will interest those who have ancestors in the 100th Regiment of Foot who settled in the Goulbourn Township, Carleton County near Ottawa.

I wish everybody concerned success in this blog. It is always good to see new genealogy blogs come on the scene with important information.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

2011 Emancipation Day Bus Tour – “The Freedom Trial Celebration”

The Ontario Black History Society is pleased to invite you to join them on the following bus tour -

Date: Saturday, July 23rd

Departure Location: Yorkdale Mall by the Cineplex Entrance

Departure Time: 8:00AM

Return Time: 9:00PM

Cost: $ 65.00- Members, $75.00- Non-Members ($40 Deposit required upon reservation)
RSVP by June 22nd, 2011 to 416)-867-9420 or E-mail:

Sites to be visited include

St. Catharines Museum at the Welland Canals Centre
The St. Catharines Museum's award-winning exhibit, Follow the North Star, explores the black experience along the Underground Railroad and recounts the rich legacy of Niagara's African Canadians.

Anthony Burns Gravesite
The provincial historic plaque at this site honours the memory of Reverend Anthony Burns, the last person tried under the Fugitive Slave Act in Massachusetts. A verdict, which returned him to slavery, incited street riots. Boston abolition­ists bought his freedom and educated him before he settled in St. Catharines and successfully ministered at Zion Baptist Church.

St. Catharines British Methodist Episcopal Church (Salem Chapel)
Its proximity to the border, access to rail lines, and employment opportunities, established St. Catharines as a large refugee centre. In 1855 their first small log church was replaced with this larger, more finished building. Its open hall plan includes a three-sided balcony, providing seating capacity for the large number of people who regularly attended, often including the famous Harriet Tubman and the newly arrived refugees whom she had led to freedom.

R. Nathaniel Dett British Methodist Episcopal Church
Constructed in 1836, this building was originally in the area of present-day Niagara Falls, then known as Fallsview. The church was designated a national historic site in 2001. The Chapel continues to be the spiritual and cultural center of the black community. It was named in honour of native-born, world-renowned musician and composer of sacred music, Robert Nathaniel Dett, who, from 1898 to 1903, was the church organist".

The Black History Society
10 Adelaide Street East Suite 402
Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1J3
Telephone:  (416) 867-9420 Fax: (416) 867-8691
Website: www.blackhistorysociety

World Acadian Congress Family Reunions

Organizers of the L'Acadie du Monde (International World Acadian Congress, to be held in August 2014) are looking for people who can organize family reunions. They hope to bring Acadian families from all over the world to celebrate the cultural traditions by attending the Congress in August.

The theme for the 2014 Congress is "Lands and Forests", which will be held in Maine's St. John Valley, in southeast Quebec, and in northwest New Brunswick.

They are hoping for 100 family reunions, and for over 50,000 people to attend the two-week-long Congress.

Acadians are the descendants of colonial French families who were exiled from their homes in 1755 by the British government in what was called Le Grand Derangement, or The Great Displacement.

Applications for families interested in hosting a family reunion are available online at the website for the fifth World Acadian Congress at

Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding Ontario Ancestors

Just received this press release from the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) -

“The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library are co-sponsoring "Finding Ontario Ancestors", a one-day summer workshop exploring the richness of Ontario records. Find out how to get the most from familiar records or discover a new source to expand your understanding of your Ontario ancestors. You’ll enjoy this relaxed, information-packed day with speakers who revel in the intricacies and richness of records – and love to share their knowledge. The workshop will be held in the Auditorium of the North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto, at the North York Centre subway station. Early registration rates are available until 15 July 2011. Discounts are available for OGS members. For program, cost and registration details, visit To check availability, call 416-733-2608 (voice mail) or e-mail”.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

War of 1812 Database

New on the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) site at they have a Records Page, and today, they have added a "collection of War of 1812 Militia Documents".

The person who has worked hard, and many hours transcribing the Records from the Library and Archives Canada is Genealogist Fred Blair.

The first two sets of Records are from the York Militia, and they are -

2nd Regiment of York Militia – Payroll at

2nd Regiment of York Militia and 5th Regiment of Lincoln Militia - Flank Companies and Others at

He offered them to the OGS with the understanding that they would be available to ALL researchers – free of charge!

I went and took a look at them myself, and Fred did an impressive job. Besides transcribing the records, he also put his own notes in with the Records, and you should read them to see if they apply to the ancestor you may be looking for in your family history.

This is just the beginning of the Records he will be allowing the OGS to place on their site, so stayed tuned as Canada goes into the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 in 2012.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Version of the Lower Canada Land Petitions (1626-1865) Database

I have just received this notice from Library and Archives Canada -

Ottawa, June 8, 2011 - Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the online database Lower Canada Land Petitions (1626-1865). This version includes digitized images of the actual petitions for all individuals listed in the database. Corrections to entries, including suggestions received from users, have also been integrated into this updated version. Many staff members contributed to the success of this project, and their efforts are much appreciated.

The database is available at:

For more information, please contact

I tested the database myself by putting in David Barclay. I found two names that matched David Barclay, and the years (1783-1804) seemed to be right.

He was the son of a United Empire Loyalist (Andrew Barclay) who settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, but one of his sons didn't stay, and I am alwats looking for him to show up somewhere. I have no idea where he went, so I am always searching databases worldwide to see where he went.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

OGS Conference 2011 – Day 3

Although lectures did not start until 9:00 o’clock on Sunday, I had an early day, starting with the First Annual Families and NewsLeaf Breakfast at 7 o’clock.

We were all set to take a picture of the group to share with you, but the conversation got so interesting, and with Dick Doherty dropping by, we plumb forgot about it.

Joyce Fingland, the new editor of NewsLeaf and e-NewsLeaf was there, as was Judy Mills, one of the associate editors of Families, along with Kathy Baker, one of the proofreaders, and a couple of other guests, including Sarah Newitt, OGS Executive Director, and Fraser Dunford, the Executive Director Emeritus.

Then I went to the marketplace to say my hellos to people I promised to stop and talk to, and it included Ed and Rick's wives (Lynne and Jennifer, respectively) at the Moorshead Magazine table (Ed and Rick were still making their way back from NGS in Charleston, South Carolina), the OGS table, and the Dundurn Press table, where I heard of the exciting year they have planned for books. I also met with Louise St. Denis of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, having just arrived from the NGS Conference 10 minutes before I saw her.

I also had my own aha! moment at the Conference. Talking to the nice folks at the Brant Branch table, I discovered some information on John Millership Merriman, who had come over to Canada in the 1920s, and ended up writing for the local newspapers. It was the latest discovery in a line of aha! moments stemming from a "Hi! Do you have anything on John from Canada?" letter I received a couple of years ago :-) (more on this in a later post) ...

So after I had my own “Meet and Greet” session, it was time to go to the closing plenary session to hear Dave Obee talk about social networking in his talk, “Blogs, Posts, Tweets and Apps”.

It made a good closing talk because it followed Brian Gilchrist's Houston Lecture talk Friday evening in that he explored all of the technology (which he says were invented for genealogists - why else would it have been invented?).

If you want to read some of the talks given at the Conference, you will be able to do so in the August issue of Families.

If you want to read Families, but are not an OGS member, you can now join for half a year, staring in June - in addition to regular membership benefits, you will be able to receive the August and November editions of NewsLeaf and Families, and four issues of e-NewsLeaf.

You can apply for membership at

Next year’s Conference 2012 will be held in Kingston. The theme will be Borders and Bridges, and the War of 1812 will be explored.

Friday, June 10, 2011

OGS Conference 2011 – Day 2

Saturday morning started off very early with the Opening Plenary, given by Stephen Young from

In “Descendancy Research: Branching Out on Your Family Tree”, he talked about his Ontario family, and he stressed the importance of tracing your cousins to find out more information about your family.

After the AGM, I went to hear Brain Gilchrist's “Does Your Research Make Sense?”.

He took us on a journey through some of his research, always asking the question, “Does it make sense”? And he told us stories about the results of his own research that wouldn't make sense if you didn’t know the whole story.

For instance, if you look at his parent's divorce papers, it says that there weren't any children from the marriage. Since Brian was of the age of majority when the divorce was granted, there weren’t any children. However, there was issue from the marriage! So watch the words you use - the meaning can be very limited!

Jane MacNamara's, “Discovering Rural Ancestors”, was an interesting and informative look at the Women's Institute of Ontario and the Tweedsmuir Histories, which the Ontario Genealogical Society is about to scan and make available in the “Member's Only” section of their website.

Nuala Farrell-Griffin—in her give her talk, “Shhh! It’s a Locality File”—emphasizes creating a locality file as the basis of research, rather than in Ireland or in Canada, or anywhere for that matter.

In the evening, at the OGS Golden Anniversary Banquet, guest speaker, Dick Doherty, gave us “Serendipity: A Lighthearted Look at Genealogy”, and was it ever lighthearted! Dick had us laughing all night long at his stories, jokes, and pictures of funny epitaphs and the like. As if the banquet supper itself and the chatter we had with the many interesting people at our table wasn't good enough (and indeed, it was!), it was worth it just to listen to Dick.

Both Mario and I were honoured to have been joined by Lisa Alzo, who herself gave five lectures during the weekend. One thing she mentioned was how impressed she was by the quality and quantity of questions asked of her during her sessions.